Top critical review
Good concept but loud rattle, possibly due to over voltage
Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2016
I've done some debugging and "fixed" my machine to stop the loud rattle. I hope someone from SKLZ can read this review and have the product fixed too. As is, I'd give the product 2 stars. With what may be a minor fix, this is a 5 star product.
My first unit worked for 10 seconds then developed a loud rattle, sounding like it would fly apart at any moment. After a return, the 2nd unit did the same. The ball feeder on the second unit was always on, despite the on/off switch position. Other reviewers have noticed the same. I'd guess a bad solder joint on the switch.
What does "loud rattle" mean? Measured using a decibel meter (not a phone app) from a distance of one foot, the unit was initially 68 decibels. After the loud rattle set in, the unit was 88 decibels. That's the volume of a lawn mower. It sounds worse than that, though, since if a lawn mower rattled like it was about to fly apart, you'd start running.
It was also surprisingly fast. Using a radar gun, I found it was reaching 50 mph. Hmm.
So this is a unit that's supposed to do 30 mph. It's currently rattling like crazy, and shooting at 50 mph. There's already one electrical problem with it (ball feeder), maybe another? Perhaps a regulator isn't functioning and it's over speeding, explaining both the 50 mph and the rattle?
As an experiment -- although note that this is NOT recommended, this is not supported, this is not guaranteed to be safe, and could damage things including your product, so please don't try this yourself -- I used a multi-voltage transformer to step the voltage down from 6 Volts (which matches the transformer that came with it) to 3 Volts. The results were:
3.0 Volts: 27 mph, 63 decibels (steady)
4.5 Volts: 36 mph, 68 decibels (occasional louder buzzing)
6.0 Volts: 50 mph, 88 decibels (buzzing)
Suggestions to SKLZ:
- investigate whether there has been a mixup with the transformer voltage. Is it supposed to be 3 Volts?
- if it really is supposed to be 6 Volts, investigate why 3 Volts is a workaround for some units; what is the real issue?
- upgrade the unit to include a speed selector (possibly by changing the voltage), or,
- sell a SKLZ multi-speed transformer specifically for use with this lightning bolt pitching machine
- some soundproofing of the unit might help too
It's possible that somewhere along the way they started putting the wrong power supplies in the box.